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AI-assisted sentencing speeds up cases in judicial system

By Yuan Shenggao | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-18 07:20

Artificial intelligence is emerging in China's judicial system, providing assistance to judges, according to Science and Technology Daily.

The Hainan High People's Court has introduced an intelligent system to standardize sentencing. It employs big data and AI technologies, such as natural language processing, knowledge graphs and deep learning, to automatically pick out key facts in a case and formulate a written judgment, after data analysis based on decisions from previous cases.

The Hainan high court is encouraging lower-level courts across Hainan province to use the system, in a bid to increase efficiency and advance standardization in judicial services.

AI-assisted sentencing speeds up cases in judicial system

The move has put the province at the forefront of the country in terms of sentencing standardization. The Supreme People's Court has praised the provincial court for the practice, which has been promoted throughout the country, according to Science and Technology Daily.

"The system is popular with those sitting on the bench at the grassroots level, as the state-of-the-art technological achievement can provide experience to young judges and protection to the elderly," the Beijing-based newspaper quoted Wang Chunbao, vice-president of the Qionghai People's Court, as saying.

Wu Xiangdong, deputy head of the criminal division of the Hainan high court, told the newspaper, "AI technologies are increasingly applied to legal services.

"As a forerunner in this field, the Hainan high court is making full use of AI technologies to help judges in handling cases," said Wu, who had given advice while the intelligent assistance system was being developed.

The system can be upgraded in line with revisions to laws and regulations. Its intelligence is not only due to the use of AI technologies, but also attributed to the close integration of AI and legal practices so as to offer the correct technological solutions in a given case context, Wu noted.

The intelligent system has been granted more than 10 invention patents.

AI-assisted sentencing speeds up cases in judicial system

Because judges have actively taken part in the system's research and development, it can improve efficiency and accuracy in criminal cases, without changing judges' thinking and working habits, said Li Zhengcai, general manager of Smart Security, the high-tech company in Beijing that developed the system.

The system can also be adapted to users' experiences and increase accuracy in recognizing key elements in a case, Li added.

With the help of the system, it has reduced the judgment time in Hainan province by more than 50 percent.

The time it takes to formulate a written judgment and all legal procedural documents has been reduced by 70 percent and 90 percent respectively, Science and Technology Daily reported.

Facing mounting cases, courts have to turn to an efficient approach to address the shortage of judges, Xiong Minghui, a professor with the Institute of Logic and Cognition at Sun Yat-sen University, told the newspaper.

Using AI to create a standardized sentencing criterion or model and apply it to handling cases will also help to realize judicial fairness, Xiong added.

Though AI is a useful helper, "we still need to remain cautious about the relations between human beings and machines," said Guo Jun, an attorney at Hainan Waijing Law Firm.

Li from Smart Security said that with the use of AI in legal services, the biggest risk would be the replacement of human judges with technology in value judgment - that absolutely cannot work.

AI in legal services or public policy decisions can only serve as an auxiliary means, experts said.

(China Daily 04/18/2019 page17)

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